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Wake detention officers fired after man found unresponsive in cell

Posted March 27

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— Two detention officers who were working the day an 18-year-old man was found unresponsive in his cell were fired for "conduct unbecoming," according to Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

Jose Humberto Lara-Pineda was charged with killing a man near a Raleigh greenway, and was placed in the Wake County Detention Center on March 21. Jail officials said Lara-Pineda was found unresponsive in his cell just before 6 p.m. on March 22.

Wake County Detention Center detention officers, medical staff and Raleigh Police officers tried to resuscitate Lara-Pineda, but their attempts were unsuccessful. He was taken to WakeMed where he was pronounced dead on March 22.

According to Harrison, Jowanna Mitchell, 42, a 13-year employee, and Steven McKoy, 36, a 4-year employee, were fired following Lara-Pineda's death. Harrison said neither of the officers’ actions were directly responsible for Lara-Pineda's death, but it is possible they did not follow proper policies and procedures.

Lara-Pineda had not been fully processed into the jail and was awaiting a psychological evaluation in a holding cell, according to an attorney for the sheriff's office. According to Harrison, policy requires officers to check on inmates four times per hour if they are awaiting a psych evaluation.

"That's our policy. That's not state policy," Harrison said.

He did not say whether Mitchell and McKoy checked on Lara-Pineda as required.

"This is something that I discovered from 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Some things that were not right that I discovered later, and that's the reason for their termination," Harrison said.

Police charged Lara-Pineda with the death of Fredys Odilo Del Cid Ramos, 28, who was found in a wooded area in the 3200 block of Calumet Drive. Authorities said he was strangled.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also put a detainer on Lara-Pineda, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador, authorities said.

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5 Comments

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  • Benjamin Throop Mar 28, 11:15 a.m.
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    A sordid affair from beginning to end.

  • Lamario Kelly Mar 28, 8:45 a.m.
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    View quoted thread


    Tasteless...murderer or not he has a family. If you had a family member die regardless of what they might have done what it be "tootles"...?? I'm not negating the fact that he deserves punishment for murder, but to be heartless as yourself is one of many issues going on with our country...

  • Kris Dawn Mar 28, 8:14 a.m.
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    He was in there for MURDER . He just did the taxpayers a favor. Toodles.

  • Ray Rivera Mar 27, 7:53 p.m.
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    I understand disciplining the officers since they allegedly violated a Sheriff's Office policy, however, those two officers had supervisors in close proximity that should have been supervising and making sure the officers adhered to policy and procedure. Failing to properly supervise has always been a thorny issue in detention and correction facilities.

  • Jj Parker Mar 27, 6:20 p.m.
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    I hope there are stern charges brought against and stick against those 2 correction officers.....